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Despite Step Forward, Devil Remains In Details Of Zimbabwe Power Sharing

Though the political parties engaged in Zimbabwe's arduous power-sharing process have all approved a constitutional amendment needed to put the proposed unity government in place, much remains to be resolved while a deepening humanitarian crisis calls for action.

Negotiators for the country's three main political formations agreed Thursday on language for a constitutional amendment mainly needed to create the offices of prime minister and deputy prime minister to serve in the proposed "all-inclusive" national unity government.

The draft amendment was forwarded to party leaders and with their approval will move to the parliament - but politicians and analysts warned it could hang fire there for weeks.

The long-ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe says the unity government must be formed as quickly as possible, but the Movement for Democratic Change whose dominant formation is led by prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai says a fair distribution of ministries, ambassador posts and governorships must first be agreed.

Adding to complications, Tsvangirai has demanded that former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has been mediating in the crisis on behalf of the Southern African Development Community, step down as talks facilitator, saying Mbeki has not been even-handed.

ZANU-PF Chief Parliamentary Whip Joram Gumbo told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the signing of the agreement on the form of the constitutional amendment is a welcome and important development for the country

Spokesman Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC formation said the party will not move further in the power-sharing process until its demands have been met.

Speaking for the rival MDC led by deputy prime minister-designate Arthur Mutambara, Edwin Mushoriwa said the deal is in the best interest of the nation.

Political analyst Brilliant Mhlanga of the University of Botswana said it is time for Tsvangirai to take a pragmatic approach to the talks to attend to the needs of Zimbabweans.

Millions of Zimbabweans now depend on international food aid to stave off starvation, and a cholera epidemic has recently swept the country, leaving hundreds dead.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...